Ashley Johnson was put on a path. After losing a close friend to colon cancer at a devastatingly young age, she embarked on a mission to take away the fear and uncertainty around the dying process. It’s so often clouded and hyper-medicalized in America and is bereft of the lack of humanistic discussion needed, especially in the wake of over 1 million individuals due to the COVID pandemic. In this raw and intimate conversation, we chat about why our culture has denied death for so long, how COVID has changed the dying process, and how we can find peace in the final moments for our loved ones – and hopefully ourselves.

In this interview, Ashley and I discuss the importance of having open and honest conversations about death with those who are grieving. She believes that these conversations are vital in helping to reduce the level of anxiety and stress that people experience in regard to death. She says that it is important for death doulas to provide support not just during the death process but also afterward, as some people may find it difficult to cope with the loss on their own. She shares some advice for those who are struggling to cope with the death of a loved one, including reminding them that it is okay not to be okay and to take things one step at a time. To learn more about Ashley, visit Loyal Hands!

Key Highlights:

[00:01 – 05:09] – Opening segment

Dr. Rusha introduces Ashley Johnson!

Her expertise in the transition process following the COVID pandemic

The state of confusion in America due to the high rate of death

[05:10 – 15:00] – Balancing Pragmatism When It Comes To Death

Balancing pragmatism and hope when it comes to death

Have conversations about death and dying with family members ahead of time

Acknowledge family members’ feelings and lead with that

The need to have a death doula present during these conversations

Death doulas provide emotional support and spiritual guidance

Physician’s lack of training in how to handle death and grief

[15:01 – 40:13] – Acknowledging The Truths About Death And Grief

The level of anxiety in the United States is at a peak

America is not equipped to handle the level of anxiety

The Denial of Death” by Ernest Becker

Acknowledging the truth about death and grief

The gun epidemic is causing emotional radiation and fallout to the country

Honor your feelings

Her dedication to working in the death and bereavement field

The difficult process of grieving and dying

[40:14 – 49:23] – Closing Segment

Ashley believes that end-of-life doulas are important and necessary in America right now

Listeners are invited to visit Loyal Hands!

Connect with Ashley Johnson at her:

LinkedIn: Ashley Johnson

Website: Ted x Westshore

Website: Loyal Hands


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Tweetable Quotes:

Ashley Johnson – “It’s just the little things of that nature to make sure that we collaborate because everybody that we work with, you being a medical professional myself, being a deaf doula, us coming together to make sure our patient and client have that death that aligns with their spirit or their belief because they only get one shot.”

Ashley Johnson – “Honor your feelings. You don’t ever want to mask your feelings.”

Dr. Rusha Modi – “The emotional depth in which you can become true to yourself and true to the moment being equally as valuable. And if done correctly, death and dying, and being part of that process can allow for a moment of just pure being and honoring of that to be true.”

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